Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School (ENSATS)
Learning by Thinking and Doing; Real Connections to 21st Century Skills; Adaptability and Flexibility; Academic Vocational Integration; Relationship Building; Sustainability; and Small School Academies, Large School Pride.
1,440 students, grades 9-12. New construction, two-story, 397,000 SF, completed 2014.
Career Pathways/Small Learning Communities, Distributed Resources, Distributed Dining Venues, Co-Location of Academic and Vocational Classrooms, 13-Building Campus on Farm Setting, Chapter 72 Vocational and Technical Shops, Public Access to Vocational Resources and Businesses, Classroom Neighborhoods, Collaborative Teacher Offices, .
Construction Management Association of America, New England Chapter, New Construction Project of the Year 2015; Learning by Design, Annual Design Showcase, Honorable Mention 2016
The merging of three well-established technical and agricultural school programs on Boston’s North Shore created an opportunity for the creation of a thoughtful and forward-thinking model for CTE programming and vocational and academic integration.
When the state of Massachusetts mandated the merger of Essex Aggie, North Shore Tech, and Peabody Vocational School, resistance turned to resignation and then to planning for a new and combined school program that was 10 years in the making. The site for the new school was the 64-acre farm on which Essex Aggie, the oldest agricultural school in Massachusetts, had been located for more than 100 years. New Vista Design was initially hired by the schools to form a Merger Team that met monthly for over a year to establish joint educational and programmatic priorities before design of the new facility would begin. New Vista was then hired by the firm of Perkins Eastman (then Cambridge Design Partnership) to serve as Educational Programmer for the new building.
The potential for students to fall through the cracks as three “small schools” of fewer than 500 students merged into one larger school of over 1,400 students was of great concern to school leadership as they weighed out their priorities. Additionally, North Shore Tech and Peabody Voc represented more traditional trades-based programs, while Essex Aggie focused more on agricultural science and farming. Of importance to all parties was the creation of a healthy school culture with more seamless integration of academic “heads-on” and vocational “hands-on” programming.
The ultimate design strategy focused on the articulation of four clearly differentiated small school communities of 350 students that are organized vertically and connected horizontally by community and dining spaces. Each small school is also organized by career pathways and overseen by distributed administrative offices. Academic classrooms are clustered around flexible learning spaces and collaborative teaching planning areas, with science classrooms and low-bay vocational shops immediately adjacent.
Those shops with high-bay spaces, such as Automotive, Carpentry, and Landscaping are located to the rear of the building where the topography slopes down significantly. Shops requiring easy public access, such as the Culinary program’s restaurant, Cosmetology program’s salon and Graphic Arts program’s print shop are located in a central public access area that can be blocked off from the rest of the school. Equine Science, Sustainable Horticulture and Veterinary Science can be found in one of a number of renovated out-buildings on the farm.
The main building is well-positioned on the sites former hayfield to provide a north-south orientation that maximizes natural daylight into the classrooms. Additional sustainability measures in support of the school’s LEED Silver target include a high performance building envelope, waterless plumbing fixtures, a green roof and a 60,000 gpm water reclamation system.